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What is the Building Code of Australia (BCA)?

An Overview on the Building Code of Australia (BCA)

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) forms part of Australia’s uniform national building code, the National Construction Code. The National Construction Code is described as Australia’s primary set of technical design and construction provisions for buildings. It is also viewed as a performance-based code that prescribes minimum required levels for the safety, health, amenity, accessibility and sustainability of certain buildings and structures. The Codes are given legal effect either through Acts or Regulations that prescribe the necessary legal framework for the Codes to be administered. 

In this article, we address the frequently asked questions regarding the Building Code of Australia, and its application in the construction industry and built form environment, including:

To examine how the Building Code of Australia applies in Victoria, Victoria’s building legislative framework is first explored as an overview, and briefly explains how the Building Code of Australia is adopted in Victoria.

What is the Building Act 1993 (Vic)?

The Building Act 1993 (Vic) is Victoria’s principal building legislation that regulates building standards and the accreditation of building practitioners.

What are the purposes of the Building Act 1993 (Vic)?

The Act’s intent to regulate built form is described in the Act’s prescribed main purposes. In general terms, the purposes are summarised in the following themes:

Purposes of the Building Act 1993Summary of the Purposes
Building Work and StandardsTo regulate building work and building standards.
Accreditation for building workTo provide for the accreditation of building products, construction methods, building components, and building systems.
Efficient and Effective SystemTo provide for an efficient and effective system, for issuing building and occupancy permits and administering and enforcing related building and safety matters and resolving building disputes.
Building PractitionersTo regulate building practitioners, building employees and plumbers.
Plumbing WorkTo regulate plumbing work and plumbing standards.
Accreditation for plumbing workTo provide for the accreditation, certification, and authorisation of plumbing work, products and materials.
Cooling Water SystemsTo regulate cooling tower systems.
Limitations of ActionsTo limit the periods within which building actions and plumbing actions may be brought. 

What are the objectives of the Building Act 1993 (Vic)?

The main purposes of the Building Act 1993 (Vic) also closely align with the Building Act 1993 (Vic)’s objectives that are thematically described in the table:

Objectives of the Building Act 1993Summary of the Objectives
Safety and HealthTo protect the safety and health of people who use buildings and places of public entertainment.
AmenityTo enhance the amenity of buildings.
Water SystemsTo promote the plumbing practices which protect the safety and health of people and the integrity of water supply and wastewater systems.
StandardsTo facilitate the adoption and efficient application of national building standards, and national plumbing standards.
Cost EffectivenessTo facilitate the cost-effective construction and maintenance of buildings and plumbing systems.
EnvironmentTo facilitate the construction of environmentally and energy efficient buildings.
EfficiencyTo aid the achievement of an efficient and competitive building and plumbing industry.

Is the Building Code of Australia (BCA) the same as the National Construction Code (NCC)?

When examining the Building Act 1993 (Vic), the Act prescribes a statutory definition of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The Building Code of Australia is defined as constituting Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code:  

Building Code of Australia means the Building Code of Australia comprising –

(a) Volume One of the National Construction Code Series including any variations or additions in the Appendix Victoria set out in the Appendices to that Volume; and

(b) Volume Two of the National Construction Code Series including any Victoria additions set out in Appendix A of that Volume

How is the Building Code of Australia (BCA) adopted in Victoria?

To meet the objectives of prescribing relevant building standards, Part 2 – Building Code of Australia of the Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) adopts the technical construction document, Building Code of Australia, as forming part of Victoria’s building regulations.

The Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) is made operative by reason of the Building Act 1993 (Vic).

Why is Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) relevant to the Building Code of Australia?

In summary, the Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) is relevant because the regulations form part of Victoria’s building regulatory framework that prescribes and sets building standards and requirements that should be complied in Victoria. This regulatory intention is prescribed in the regulations’ objectives and is thematically summarised:

Purposes of the Building Regulations 2018Summary of the Regulations
AmendmentsTo remake with amendments the regulations which control the design, construction and use of buildings and places of public entertainment.
Standards for BuildingsTo prescribe standards for the construction and demolition of buildings.
Standards for SafetyTo prescribe standards of safety for places of public entertainment
Regulate Use and MaintenanceTo regulate matters relating to the use and maintenance of buildings and places of public entertainment.
Prescribe requirements for dwellingsTo prescribe requirements for the design and siting of single dwellings and associated buildings.
Prescribe requirements for fire safety and safety measuresTo prescribe standards and matters relating to the maintenance of fire safety and safety measures.
Prescribe requirements for swimming pools and spasTo prescribe requirements for swimming pools and spas.
AccreditationsTo provide for matters relating to accreditation of building products, construction methods, designs, components and systems connected with building work.
Prescribe FeesTo prescribe fees in relation to matters before the Building Appeals Board, the Authority and the Building Regulations Advisory Committee
Other MattersTo provide for other matters for the purposes of the Building Act 1993 (Vic).

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What is the Building Code of Australia (BCA)?

The National Construction Code is published with three volumes: Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) comprises Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code, and the Plumbing Code of Australia comprises Volume Three of the National Construction Code. Volume One and Volume Two is intended to address the technical construction requirements for specific types of built form. The separation of the Volumes and Codes is depicted in the table:

National Construction CodeVolume
Building Code of AustraliaVolume One of the National Construction Code

Volume Two of the National Construction Code
Plumbing Code of AustraliaVolume Three of the National Construction Code

What is covered in the Building Code of Australia (BCA)?

In summary, Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code covers the design and construction of specifically described built form. The type of built form that is covered is summarised:

Building Code of AustraliaSummary of Content
Volume OneVolume One is intended to regulate the design and construction of multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public assembly buildings and some associated structures.
Volume TwoVolume Two is intended to regulate the design and construction of smaller scale buildings. This also includes, houses, small sheds, carports and some associated structures.

Otherwise, the layout of Volume One and Volume Two share similarities, and their format can be briefly described with the following common elements: the Governing Requirements, Performance Requirements, compliance options to meet the National Construction Code’s performance requirements, and any variations and additions.

For further general understanding regarding the application of the National Construction Code, other topics that explore the Code include:

How are buildings classified and regulated by the Building Code of Australia (BCA)?

The Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) prescribes the regulation and classification of buildings that:

For the purposes of these Regulations, buildings must be classified as set out in the BCA.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) defines building and structures by the purpose that they are designed, constructed or adapted to be used, and are assigned a classification. Broadly, building classifications are regulated by the Building Code of Australia (BCA) for the classification of building classes.

What building classes are regulated by the Building Code of Australia (BCA)?

The types of building classes regulated by the Building Code of Australia are set out in the table summarising the building classifications from Class 1 building to Class 10 building in general terms:

Building ClassesSummary
Class 1 buildingA class 1 building is a dwelling.
Class 2 buildingA class 2 building is a building containing two or more sole-occupancy units.
 
In general terms, a sole-occupancy unit is a room or other part of a building for occupation by one or joint owner, lessee, tenant or other occupier to the exclusion of any other owner, lessee, tenant, or other occupier.
Class 3 buildingA class 3 building is a residential building providing long-term or transient accommodation for a number of unrelated persons.
Class 4 buildingA class 4 building is a dwelling in a Class 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 building if it is the only dwelling in the building.
Class 5 buildingA class 5 building is an office used for professional or commercial purposes.
Class 6 buildingA class 6 building is a shop or other building use for the sale of goods by retail or the supply of services direct to the public.
Class 7 buildingA class 7 building is a storage-type building.
Class 8 buildingA class 8 building is a process-type building.
Class 9 buildingA class 9 building is a building of a public nature.
Class 10 buildingA class 10 building is a non-habitable building or structure.

Read More: For further information, “What are building classes?” provides an introduction to the building classes and explores Class 1 buildings to Class 10 buildings as prescribed by the National Construction Code.

Notes and Further information

For further information about Victoria’s building legislative and regulatory framework, other topics include:

National Construction Code (NCC): Overview | National Construction Code (NCC): Format and Layout | Performance Requirements | Building Classes

If you are looking for legal expertise and have any questions, connect with an author or a member of our building and construction team.

Do you need legal advice? Call us on (03) 5331 1244 to get in touch and arrange an appointment with one of our lawyers.

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Authored by:
Ben Franklin, Managing Partner (LIV Accredited Specialist – Property Law), &
Matthew Tran, Lawyer.

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